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We Retired Early — But Our Tiny Home On Wheels Is More Than We Bargained For

Photo: Courtesy of the Author
mobile home with sunset in background

We’ve all had this dreadful experience. You’re exhausted but not ready to sleep. You climb into bed, ready to get lost in your latest riveting read, only to find out you forgot your book in the living room. The last thing you feel like doing is scurrying through your cold, dark house (possibly naked) in search of your novel.

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This was the scene just last night for me. We were fresh off a 78-hour shift babysitting our 2-year-old grandson. I spent the day writing for a few hours and then mowing more than two acres' worth of dusty grass. I was bone-weary, as my mother used to say, and all I wanted to do was lie down and read my book.

Side note: I’m certain a 63-year-old woman with physical challenges isn’t meant to chase a 2-year-old for hours on end.

As fun as it is, and I adore being a Gigi, it takes a toll on my body. To make matters worse, I also took a tumble on the gravel driveway as a poignant way to end our babysitting session. There was nothing that screamed “aging gracefully” about my day. Ugh. (Now back to the story.)

The only great thing about this situation (leaving my book in the living room; come on, keep up with my ADHD way of telling stories) is that my living room is four steps away from my bed. Three steps on a good day. Who said there aren’t benefits to tiny home living?

I commented to my wife as I (finally) crawled into bed how grateful I was for our small space in a situation like this, and then I laughed myself silly because I was so darn tired.

Why We Love Our Lifestyle

I am the first to admit that this lifestyle isn’t for everyone. I have written about this frequently, so I won’t belabor the point here except to say we all have to do what’s authentic. Living in a tiny home was more than I bargained for in the best possible ways. I didn’t think I’d like it, but I was wrong.

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This lifestyle made early retirement possible for us. It was a concession for me but I figured I could do anything for a year or so if it meant I could retire. Traveling throughout the US was also appealing so this lifestyle made sense.

My wife and I are energized by learning and experiencing new places. Having never towed, or owned an RV before (hell, we’d never owned a truck either!), we are learning and seeing new things every day and loving it.

It’s thrilling when we meet new people and spend time getting to know them at the various RV sites we stay in.

We’ve met lovely people and guess what? We don’t need to maintain those relationships because there is no expectation to do so. I love this; it’s almost like having a bunch of situational friendships that take no work.

There is something grand about not having a lot of things or responsibilities.

I have nearly forgotten about our storage unit that keeps our possessions that need a temperature-controlled environment (like my drum set and our framed artwork). We will return to these one day, but I suspect it’ll be a few years before we do.

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The only things we are responsible for are our truck, a bright white Ram 1500 named BABBS, which stands for Bad A** B**** Bosses, and our camper, Teardrop. That’s it, BABBS, Teardrop, and the two of us; what could be better?

What’s Great About Tiny Home Living

One of the benefits of our lifestyle is that it requires very little money.

This was essential because we retired early (at ages 62 and 59) and didn’t want to take Social Security payments until at least 65. Our trailer and truck are paid for, so our expenses are minimal, and we are free to roam to our heart’s content.

We have discovered that RV parks can be pricey but not pricey like hotels.

They can also be crowded and offer little privacy, so we often stay at offbeat sites we find through an organization called Harvest Hosts. Through our HH membership, we’ve stayed at super cool locations, including wineries, horse ranches, and a loofa and lavender farm (the opening picture was taken at that farm in Northern CA).

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Here’s another bonus, especially in light of Covid. We never have to use a public restroom. When we need to stop for a potty break or to eat lunch, we find a spot to park and jump in our trailer. It’s glorious. I was not too fond of public bathrooms before Covid, and now they give me anxiety, so this is a great advantage.

Last but not least, say goodbye to hours-long cleaning days. I can clean our trailer top to bottom in less than an hour. No kidding!

Drawbacks?

I can honestly say there aren’t many. The inability to host a gathering could be considered a drawback. Our small space makes that nearly impossible, but we have found remedies. Having to dump our black and grey water tanks could be a drawback but we’ve made it a part of our weekly routine, and there are convenient dump facilities everywhere.

Clutter can be a problem, but fortunately, our unit has a lot of built-in storage. Being in a small space makes anything left out noticeable, so we are mindful of putting things away after using them. I’m a touch OCD, so this wasn’t a hard adjustment for me!

We love our little home on wheels and will likely continue living this way for another three-to-five years.

We like the idea of continuing to live in a tiny home and plan to build a small house as a permanent dwelling down the road. Living small is lovely. And, this tiny home lifestyle allowed us to retire early, which I wouldn’t trade for the world. I honestly can’t think of one thing I don’t like about it.

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Kim Kelly she/her, calls the Pacific Northwest home when she isn’t traveling with her wife in their 21-foot teardrop trailer. She is a writer, speaker, and espresso enthusiast who writes about authenticity, retirement, relationships, and life on the road.

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.